Opinion Op Ed 11 Jul 2016 London Diary: Aces t ...
Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.

London Diary: Aces to beat Brexit blues

Published Jul 11, 2016, 12:52 am IST
Updated Jul 11, 2016, 1:21 am IST
Ms Leadsom seems to be a female “Donald Trump”.
Andy Murray beat Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 to win a second Wimbledon title and third Grand slam on Sunday. (Photo: AP)
 Andy Murray beat Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 to win a second Wimbledon title and third Grand slam on Sunday. (Photo: AP)

The season of strawberries and cream, and Wimbledon is here — and perhaps the post-Brexit gloom is beginning to lift a little. What a relief to see the conversation shift to who wore what to Wimbledon, and the magnificent Williams sisters. Here at least the competition is fierce but fair. Novak Djokovic has been eliminated. This raises our hopes that our own Andy Murray may win. If he wins he will be a British hero. If he loses he will be a sorry Scot. In any case, if no English player comes out at the top, there is help at hand. The Duchess of Cambridge has told us that George is now wielding the tennis racquet. Only a few years to go!

Ultimately this is the strength of the country — its traditions which carry on despite the mayhem of politics! It is also the season when all of London is full of visitors from India (or so it seems!). Another grand tradition which remains unchanged and perhaps will only get a boost as the pound takes a hammering. So who is complaining? The more the visitors spend, the better it is for the economy. But London is also very different from the rest of the country as we saw in the voting for Brexit. It was very much in favour of the “Remain” lobby, and its multicultural traditions make it stand out. Migration has made London change dramatically, and this was also reflected in the fact it had chosen a Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, son of Pakistani-origin parents.

 

And so for the first time ever, we saw a full-scale celebration of Id at Trafalgar Square. There was dancing, the celebration of women’s achievements and a representation of the different aspects of the Islamic faith. So when we speak of an increase in racist attacks on the ethnic community post-Brexit, let us also remember that there has been an increasing acceptance that migrants are contributing towards the country as well. For the far right, all migration is anathema — and they would be happier if the White West could seal its borders. But it remains an impossible goal in a globalised world — and the sooner they realise it the better!

For many of us the real revelation post-Brexit has been about the darker side of the “Leave” campaigners, who have also since “left” British politics messier than ever before. Leading the pack of merry absconders was Boris Johnson. Because ever since that June 23rd moment when Prime Minister David Cameron announced his departure (though he was on the side of the failed “Remain” campaign) a Shakespearean farce has been unfolding, with dramatic personae eyeing the prime ministerial post.

Thus friends have fallen apart and their wives are at daggers drawn. This happened to the first couple David and Samantha Cameron and their “friends” — the education secretary and “Leave” leader, Michael Gove and his wife Sarah Vine. The next two to fall out were Mr Johnson and Mr Gove because the latter’s wife “accidentally” leaked a letter, written to her husband. Ms Vine is a high-profile columnist and she wrote in the “leaked” email that the big newspaper proprietors don’t trust Mr Johnson and that her husband should be tough in bargaining for the best job in a future Boris Johnson government. Guess what the “best” job could be? Just as Mr Johnson was about to announce his candidacy, Mr Gove declared he had no faith in Mr Johnson and decided to run as a candidate for the leadership.

But the fruits of treachery are never sweet, though the fruits of Brexit just might be. Mr Gove came third out of five in the first round of voting. Then in the final round he was beaten by Andrea Leadsom who was a junior on the “Leave” campaign. She had been promised a job by Mr Johnson, but then he, as is his style, forgot to give the promise in writing. So she has decided to run. Mr Gove is now mistrusted by many and loathed by some. So we have two women running against each other for the leadership, home secretary Theresa May and Ms Leadsom.

This could have been a battle where women leaders turn out to be better behaved than the men! Alas, Ms Leadsom seems to be a female “Donald Trump”. She has come up with the stunning claim that she is better qualified to be a Prime Minister as she has children. This was a “below the belt” dig at Ms May who has already spoken about her inability to become a mother. (Besides we better invite Ms Leadsom to India for a crash course on how so many national leaders are not just childless, they are unmarried, too.)

However, women generally are throwing their hatpins in the ring. Recently, Labour MP Angela Eagle has announced that she will challenge the discredited leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, at whose doorstep we can also place the defeat of the “Remain” campaign. I had hoped to see Harriet Harman, another Labour leader across the aisle from Ms May — but it will be interesting times to have both national parties led by women. Hurrah! Who says the UK is not a great democracy?

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